Black Eagle Canoe
Title/Date: The Black Eagle Canoe, 1987
Artist: Bill Reid
Culture/Language Group: Haida
Media: Fiberglass, wood, metal
Credit Line: Donated by Charles and Gayle Pancerzewski, SFU’s Bill Reid Collection
Location: AQ 4000 level, northwest corner
The dugout canoe is an integral part of Northwest Coast society. In addition to being a means for fishing and gathering food, trade, and transport, these canoes represent a sophisticated art form, and stand as a symbol of cultural identity.
Based on their centrality in some of the earliest oral histories in the region (which can be traced back 10,000 years), the canoe is arguably one of the most important physical manifestation of Northwest Coast culture. The canoe is also a spiritual vessel, which garners great respect. The hulls are constructed of once-living trees that survived centuries and sustained the lives of innumerable birds, insects, mammals and other plants. Blessed at each step of their transformation and hardened by the forces of fire and water, Northwest Coast canoes come to represent entire clans and communities. Canoes are also a vessel of knowledge, as they represent the skill and precision of craftsmen and carvers who transformed mighty trees into seagoing vessels without the tools or technological advances that are relied upon today.
Bill Reid expressed great admiration for the traditional Haida Canoe and what it represents visually, symbolically, and culturally. For Expo ‘86 Reid, assisted by Guujaaw and Simon Dick, carved Loo Taas (Wave Eater), a 50-foot canoe born from a 750-year-old cedar log, the first of its kind on the Northwest Coast in over 100 years. Reid went on to make four full-scale fiberglass replicas of Loo Taas, two of which he painted to represent the main social groupings of the Haida. He called them the Red Raven and the Black Eagle.
Black Eagle Ust’am (to witness) Highlights
Additional Information - Black Eagle
The Black Eagle canoe is one of four 1987 reproductions of Loo Taas. They were fabricated by Martin Yachts Ltd. of Richmond, B.C. from a mould designed by Bill Reid. William Reid, Ltd. then bought the canoes, added Bill Reid design elements, and sold two of them to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Black Eagle was operated by the Canadian Museum of Civilization for several summers on the Ottawa River.
Through the generous donations of Charles and Gayle Pancerzewski, the Black Eagle canoe has been added to the Bill Reid Collection at Simon Fraser University, and is now proudly displayed at SFU’s Burnaby Campus.
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